Last week, I went to a music and poetry event where a friend was performing. I arrived at about 7:15pm, giving me 15 minutes to find a good seat and to buy a drink.
However, there had been no indication in the event listing that the show actually began at 8pm, and that 7:30pm had been when the doors opened. Conversely, if I’d treated 7:30pm as the ‘doors open’ time, there’s a chance I would have missed the start of the show.
It’s not the first time I’ve experienced this ambiguity, so when I’m listing my own events, I specify when the doors open and when the show actually begins. It doesn’t stop people being late, but it signals that they’ll miss part of the event if they arrive after the stated time.
At least at the aforementioned poetry evening, the performers spoke into the microphone, which brings me to my second pet hate of this entry: those who don’t use it, or use it incorrectly.
Where a working microphone is provided, always speak into it, as it’s usually there for a reason.
We bought a PA system for our open-mike night because we used to meet in a noisy pub. But even where there is minimal background noise, anyone with hearing difficulties might not be able to make out what you’re saying without amplification. Even among an audience with good hearing, taking away the amplification can mean they miss the beginning of what you tell them.
In a larger venue such as a theatre, hearing aid users can usually tap into the induction loop, which relies on microphone use, so they might not be able to hear you at all without one.
Where amplification is used, be sure to keep your mouth a consistent distance from the microphone – especially if it’s hand-held – or the sound can come and go in a distracting manner. Also be aware that some of them need you to speak into one side rather than the top.
In a nutshell, to be figuratively and literally clear:
- Be specific about when your gig starts
- Use a microphone where one is provided